Thursday, September 30, 2010

Denigration of Men Is Normal

I was sitting at the dog park today and the 50 year old woman in front of me was talking on the phone about some guy "getting what he has coming to him." When the woman on the other line mentioned another man she replied “he’s a real jerk to”.

It gets me thinking how I never hear 50 year old men talk this way about women in public. “yea she’s a real bitch to” "she's gonna get what's coming to her" It would be considered quite crude to speak in public this way.

Somehow, women are the choosers so to speak. They have inherent value to men which can not be diminished. It seems they feel they have a license to be demanding and critical of men and are not concerned in the slightest of diminishing their value to men because of it. It seems they believe they have license to treat men this way.

How is it that the word jerk has become so acceptable to describe men? It reminds me of an ad I saw on the side of the road some months back that said “how not to marry a jerk” call 555-5555. Would it be more likely to cause a second thought in the public mind if the sign said “how not to marry a bitch” call 555-5555?

I suppose men should consider ourselves lucky, it could be worse. Women could have the right to slap us, beat us, and hit us in the genitals, even in public...or do they??? I suspect no one would care if they saw a woman in public keeping a man in his place, they may even laugh and most would think he had it coming.

Which reminds me, I was at the gym the other day and a lady was talking to her friend, she said “when a woman kills a man I always think he had it coming” I looked at her with a straight face and furrowed brow, she laughed nervously when she realized I was offended (i think I made her feel uncomfortable, at least I hope I did).

Why are women always seen as right and men are wrong? Why do they have such authority to be so critical, demanding and abusive of men? Why do they have the right to slap, beat and murder us? Why do they use the word jerk in public without a second thought? Why do "men have it coming" to us? Why is it so typical and common language that such names for men become so accepted and normalized that it never crossed the consciousness of the woman at the dog park when she was speaking of a man this way?

It seems that if a man were to speak the equivalent about a woman in public he would be conscious that it's inappropriate. The validity of his statement would be challenged by the mind of the listener. He would not be given the authority to speak of a woman this way as women are given the authority to speak of men this way. Why?

Monday, September 6, 2010

TechCrunch puts women in their place: A Syndication

Too Few Women In Tech? Stop Blaming The Men.

Michael Arrington
Aug 28, 2010

Success in Silicon Valley, most would agree, is more merit driven than almost any other place in the world. It doesn’t matter how old you are, what sex you are, what politics you support or what color you are. If your idea rocks and you can execute, you can change the world and/or get really, stinking rich.

For the most part I’ve sat on the sidelines over the years during the endless debates about how we need to do more to encourage more women to start companies. What I mean by “sat on the sidelines” is this – until today I haven’t really said what I felt. Now I’m going to.

Here’s why. Yet another article, this timein the Wall Street Journal, takes a shot at us and others for not doing enough to help women in tech. Says Rachel Sklar, a perennial TechCrunch critic:

“Part of changing the ratio is just changing awareness, so that the next time Techcrunch is planning a Techcrunch Disrupt, they won’t be able to not see the overwhelming maleness of it,” said Ms. Sklar, referring to the influential tech conference.

Yeah ok, whatever Rachel. Every damn time we have a conference we fret over how we can find women to fill speaking slots. We ask our friends and contacts for suggestions. We beg women to come and speak. Where do we end up? With about 10% of our speakers as women.

We won’t put women on stage just because they’re women – that’s not fair to the audience who’ve paid thousands of dollars each to be there. But we do spend an extraordinary amount of time finding those qualified women and asking them to speak.

And you know what? A lot of the time they say no. Because they are literally hounded to speak at every single tech event in the world because they are all trying so hard to find qualified women to speak at their conference.

What’s The Real Problem?
I could, like others (see all the links in that Fred Wilson post too), write pandering but meaningless posts agonizing over the problem and suggesting creative ways that we (men) could do more to help women. I could point out that the CEO of TechCrunch is a woman, as are two of our four senior editors (I’m one of the four). And how we seek out women focused events and startups and cover them to death.

But I’m not going to do that. Instead I’m going to tell it like it is. And what it is is this: statistically speaking women have a huge advantage as entrepreneurs, because the press is dying to write about them, and venture capitalists are dying to fund them. Just so no one will point the accusing finger of discrimination at them.

That WSJ article also criticizes Y Combinator for having just 14 female founders out of their 208 startups to date. But I know that Y Combinator wants – really, really wants – female founders and that there just aren’t very many of them. I know this because Y Combinator cofounder Jessica Livingston has told me how excited they are to get applications from women, and that they want to do everything they can to get more female applicants. What they probably won’t admit, but I suspect is true anyway, is that the rate of acceptance for female applicants is far higher than for male applicants.

The problem isn’t that Silicon Valley is keeping women down, or not doing enough to encourage female entrepreneurs. The opposite is true. No, the problem is that not enough women want to become entrepreneurs.

Why? I was asked that question as part of a New York Times interview earlier this year. I dodged it completely, and referred them to Cyan Banister, the founder of Zivity, instead:

Q. Do you anticipate that there will be more companies led by women at the TC50 and Disrupt this year?

A. Women are really tough. I have no idea why. We invited a team founded by a woman to Disrupt. But they canceled. There just aren’t a lot of female tech entrepreneurs out there relative to the number of men, I think. We celebrate the ones we find whenever we find them. There’s a chance we’ll write about what they’re doing, simply because they’re a fairly rare thing in our world. But it is really hard to find female entrepreneurs in tech, in my experience. I really think this is an industry-wide problem.

Q. How do the female tech entrepreneurs and investors in your community feel about this situation?

A. There’s a fascinating company, Zivity, it’s a venture-funded, adult photography community — yes, they put up pictures of naked women online — it was co-founded and is run by a woman, Cyan Banister. She wrote me in response to a post about women who are entrepreneurs, saying, basically, though these are not her exact words, women [stink] as entrepreneurs a lot of the time because they are nurturing and not risk-taking enough by nature. She also said when men roll the dice and take risks, that society doesn’t punish them at all, and it’s in their nature to take stupid risks.

I didn’t respond to that. I didn’t want to jump into that debate. And I guess I still don’t.

Is Cyan right? I don’t know, I’m from Mars, not Venus and I cannot speak intelligently about the nurturing and risk tolerance needs of women. But I will say this. The next time you women want to start pointing the finger at me when discussing the problem of too few women in tech, just stop. Look in the mirror. And realize this – there are women like Sklar who complain about how there are too few women in tech, and then there are women just who go out and start companies (like this one). Let’s have less of the former and more of the latter, please. And when you do start your company, we’ll cover it. Promise.